Jun 17, 2013

Posted by in Movies & TV | 0 Comments

Aria – A Review

aria 2By normal standards, media is stimulating. Whether it be books, movies, television, computers, or games, the reason we like watching them is to be stimulated in some way. But in rare cases, media can have the opposite effect. Playing a game of solitaire on break at work to veg out, listening to the radio to go to sleep, or putting your favorite movie on in the background while studying. All of these things provide soothing comfort to drop the intended recipient into a relaxed state. And a prime example of this rare form of entertainment is the anime Aria. Here is a synopsis from Myanimelist:

“Drift peacefully into Neo Venezia, a city on the planet Aqua (formerly known as Mars). By the 24th century, humans have found a way to colonize the previously uninhabitable planet. As futuristic as that sounds, Neo Venezia is still teeming with rustic beauty; gondolas on wide canals and waterways are the main mode of transportation. The city itself is a faithful replication of Manhome’s (the planet formerly known as Earth) Venice.

To make sure that residents and tourists alike get the most from Neo Venezia’s many wonders, companies offering guided tours via gondola were formed, one of which is named Aria Company. This is the workplace of Akari Mizunashi, a free spirited teenager from Manhome who is now a novice Undine (the title given to tour guides). Join Akari as she becomes intimately acquainted with other Undine, tourists, Neo Venezia’s residents, and even the city itself, learning many valuable life lessons along the way, such as the wonderful truth that there are such things as manmade miracles.”

Let me tell you a little something about Aria – it’s one of the most calming, beautiful shows ever conceived. It’s like a portal into the world of Thomas Kinkade, but with even more charm. The slice-of-life story follows Akari in Neo-Venezia as she learns to become a gondolier. Her dream is to become an undine, a gondolier who acts as a tour guide. The city dreamt up by mangaka Amano Kozue is practically a perfected version of Venice, complete with sparkling channels, friendly citizens, and quite conveniently, very few tourists. The fact that the story is set on Mars has absolutely no bearing on the story and becomes completely unimportant after the first episode. It’s just an alternate earth with much more beautiful setting. The anime, which is three seasons long, is 60+ episodes of beauty, accompanied by spectacular music, voice-acting, and colorful art. Aria is unique in its broad imagination and detail.

aria-christmasEach day, Akari and her two friends Aika and Alice train to become full-fledged gondola pilots. And they do this by exploring the city, learning new things and meeting new people along the way. By doing this, Kozue is able to stretch the boundaries of her art and really explore all sorts of settings, shades, and textures. And she uses a brilliant story-telling device by having Akira write her day’s adventures to a pen pal on earth that ties in perfectly at the very end of the story.

And that’s part of what makes this show so incredible. There is absolutely no demands or pressures to the story. While the plot does gradually progress, the real draw is the wonders surrounding Akira and her friends. The world of Neo-Venizia puts you at ease and then fills you with wonder, much like a ride on a gondola itself. Each episode lulls the viewer into a sense of calm that will make you want to nod off and dream once you’re at the end. The characters are sweet and funny, and the dialogue is never once trite, but rather innocent. It’s the kind of environment you always secretly wish was yours. Full of people who are always happy and making life count in the moment.

At the final minute of a perfect end to the series, I was overcome with both glee and sadness. Even now, as I think about how this series is actually over and I won’t have any more episodes to watch, it saddens me, because that’s how good it was. It’s inspired me to become an even better writer so that perhaps one day I can write something that will make people as sad – just because they love it that much. Not only does the ending make your heart pound with overwhelming feeling and love, but it gives you hope for the new generation – a new story waiting on the horizon.

For anyone who loves a fantastic story that could end all ails with one cute “Ehhhh?” from Akari, I would recommend Aria. I guarantee you will be changed forever, even before Alicia can say, “Ara ara!”


Check out the trailer: